Head into the great unknown with this 26 day camping tour. Meet up in Athens and begin your adventure with stops in places like Turkey, Macedonia and Croatia before getting back on the mainstream track through Germany and Switzerland - these are just a few of the amazing countries you'll visit! The best bit though, has to be doing it the way Contiki started - a bunch of new friends, two person tents, and the open road.
Welcome to Greece! On arrival, make your way to the campsite & meet your travel buddies & Tour Manager and get excited for the days ahead! Tonight, you could head to the traditional quarter of Plaka, set on the shady slopes beneath the Acropolis, where tavernas spill out onto the pavements. Or else, check out Athens’ up-and-coming district of Psiri, buzzing with trendy bars and clubs.
We hit the road and head north, travelling past mythical Mt Olympus, Greece’s highest peak, and stop off for a crash-course in ancient heroism at Thermopylae, where just 300 Spartan soldiers held off the invading Persian army’s masses of thousands. After cruising by Byzantine Thessaloniki, we arrive in the port town of Kavala.
This morning, we farewell Greece and travel into Turkey. Make a pilgrimage to the site of a major bloody battle, Gallipoli. Visit stunning Anzac Cove where World War I troops landed, Lone Pine Cemetery, where Australian troops are buried and check out the memorial for New Zealand soldiers. Later, we head into easy-going Eceabat. Take a walk along the waterfront, complete with stunning views over Asia, or write some postcards back at the campsite.
Ferry across the Dardanelles, crossing from Europe into to Asia, to Troy. We get inside the legend of one the world’s most famous battles and explore the excavation site of mythical Troy. Learn how heroes and gods fought in a ten year war, as our Local Guide unravels the layers of history. Back on the coach and into Europe, we continue on to Istanbul – the last stop on the Silk Road and the only city in the world to span two continents.
With a full day here, there is time to get a real feel for this cultural melting pot. You've got the chance to check out one of the city’s major draw cards, the stunning Blue Mosque. It’s an amazing building with a series of domes and minarets dominating the skyline, complete with a breathtaking interior of tens of thousands of blue tiles. After that, you could plunge into several kilometres of shops at the Grand Baazar - it’s an unforgettable shopping experience! Walk through a maze of lanes, where tacky trinkets and authentic treasures are sold side by side. With carpets, jewellery, spices, music, electronics and more, the place is buzzing, so make sure you’ve got your haggling hat on. There are heaps of options for your afternoon here, so live a bit of Istanbul’s daily life. Try your hand at backgammon in a sidewalk cafe and watch the crowds go by as you sip on Turkish coffee. Chill out in a tea garden, or take to the time-honoured tradition of the hammam (steam bath house) and get scrubbed down on heated marble stones. Opt for a dinner complete with belly dancers and watch some top dancers perform this famous Eastern art. Istanbul’s nightlife is fantastic and your Tour Manager knows what you’re after – so find out about the city’s happening bars and clubs and go discover!
This morning, it’s on to Sofia, Bulgaria’s largest city. Once behind the Iron Curtain and today an emerging capital, Sofia brings together traditional Tsarist architecture and a modern feel. It’s the perfect place to explore on foot. Your Tour Manager will lead a walking tour through this compact town. You’ll see the massive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, complete with golden domes, mosaics and murals, and then check out the stalls that surround the building.
Today we say farewell Macedonia and head over the border and into Albania. Albania serves up mind-blowing scenery scattered with the remains of old war-bunkers – a sad reminder of its recent past. Your Trip Manager will give you this country’s story on the coach as we follow the coast to our overnight stop.
Cut across Macedonia and stop off for lunch in Skopje, known for its thriving outdoor cafés. Try some Macedonian specialities like burek (delicious local bread) with white cheese or a local pizza. Next up it’s Struga, tucked in between mountains and one of Europe’s most gorgeous, oldest lakes. Our campsite is located right beside the water, so you can take a dip whenever you feel like it. After dinner, position yourself at a lakeside terrace with a local beer and take in the peaceful surroundings.
Sticking to the shoreline, continue through tiny Montenegro to the spectacular fortress town of Dubrovnik, well known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”.
With Baroque buildings, museums and monasteries, this eye-catching UNESCO World Heritage Site is great to explore. Get lost in the walled city’s web of winding streets. You’ve got free time so pull up at a table in the pedestrian district of the stunning Old Town. Lunch on fantastic fresh seafood or a spicy beef stew. For full scale views of the area, wander along the 2kms of Old Town walls or hike up Mt. Srj. Otherwise, take a moment to remember Croatia’s recent history at an open-air exhibition and war memorial. Or else get away from it with a taste of paradise on the small neighbouring island of Lokrum. With botanical gardens, a small lake and gorgeous beaches, this is the perfect place to chill out. In the afternoon, try our optional Dubrovnik Cruise. Jump on the family-run boat and island hop!
Weaving up the Dalmatian Coast towards Split, we pass crystal clear waters scattered with green islands. Meet with Roman heritage when you wander through the domain of Diocletian’s Palace in the city centre, complete with 220 buildings and an imposing cathedral.
Cruise through stunning Paklencia National Park and pass Central Europe’s largest lake, Lake Balaton, often dubbed the ‘Hungarian Sea’, before continuing on to the ‘Paris of the East’, Budapest. With two cities rolled into one, this exotic town has a bit of everything. Buda and Pest sit on different sides of the river, but bring together the stunning buildings and atmosphere that makes Budapest so romantic.
As we cruise through Slovakia we’ll pause for lunch in quaint Bratislava. We head into the compact old town and check out its medieval castle. Order yourself the regional speciality, treska (cold fish salad), or try some local cheeses. Our next stop is the cultural hub of Vienna. Tonight, we’ll head to the city’s famous amusement park, Prater Park, for a fun night of Ferris wheels, ghost trains and over 200 attractions.
On the Buda side of the river, from the Fisherman’s Bastion, you’ll get a full-blown view of the city and learn about Budapest’s history in a nutshell! Check out the colourful Church of St. Matthias, the Royal Palace and the Chain Bridge. Your Tour Manager knows all about Budapest’s bumpy history and will tell you more with a visit to the Liberation Monument. Free time means a chance to treat yourself to a truly local experience: a spa and thermal bath. With outdoor thermal pools, healing waters, Art Nouveau architecture and spa treatments, this is the perfect way to unwind. For more of Budapest’s outdoor lifestyle, it’s a short bus ride to visit Margaret Island, a favourite among the city’s residents with its gardens, fountains, pools and ruins. Take in a different view of the city from the Danube River, while cruising past night-time Budapest. Our Local Guide talks about Hungary’s heyday and points out the city’s important buildings from this period, which are lit up for the night. Try some Hungarian specialties, like goulash and cabbage rolls, and enjoy some drinks. Launch into Budapest’s nightlife and live it up like the locals by heading to a beerhouse, a riverside bar or a happening club.
Your Tour Manager starts the day by introducing the group to the city’s historical heritage. There’s the imperial grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, the elegantly ornate State Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral – a Gothic masterpiece. Cruise down Kärntner Strasse, Vienna’s main shopping spot and buy some traditional ceramics and materials for gifts back home. There’s free time to check out the magnificent squares and majestic palaces or the city’s art galleries. Take a break in a coffee house like the locals do, chill out in Vienna’s manicured gardens or wander along the Danube River. Get schnaps savvy with a behind-the-scenes look into this local liqueuer’s production in an optional excursion to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum. Later, there’s a chance to experience Vienna’s musical legacy with a Mozart and Strauss concert in one of the city’s imperial palaces.
Roll through Bohemia to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Český Krumlov. The town is all about old-world charm, cute shops, cosy cafés and winding cobblestone lanes. This afternoon, relax on the coach as we head to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.
Prague is a beautiful and atmospheric city. It’s also pretty compact, so it’s best explored on foot. Get straight into Prague’s historic heart with your Tour Manager. You’ll walk together over the landmark Charles Bridge, through Hradčany Castle, the home of the original Bohemian Kings and to the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral along the way. Choose a lunch cruise on the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of Prague, and take in stunning views of the city from the water. The Czech capital has a really mixed past so look out for signs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian Empire, the Nazis and the Communists. Free time means you can get deeper into Prague’s Old Town in your own time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a jumble of little lanes, alleys and courtyards. Slow the pace down and give yourself a chance to uncover its hidden treasures. Spend some time in the picturesque Old Town Square, where historic buildings and churches surround cafés that spill out onto the pavement. With some world-famous Czech pilsner in hand, park yourself at a table, people-watch and try out some of the traditional local dumplings. This is also the spot to pick up some famous Bohemian glass, beads or garnet and amber jewellery By night, Prague bursts with possibilities. Loaded with all types of music, from jazz bars and hip DJs to opera, there is something for everyone, so make the most of it with your friends.
Remember one of history’s darkest moments with a sobering stop at the Dachau concentration camp memorial. Learn more at the museum and walk through the remaining living quarters. Afterwards we travel to the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich - a city that blends traditional Bavarian culture and modern lifestyle. Explore the heart of Munich’s old town with the crew, and head to Marienplatz. It’s a central gathering spot famous for the Glockenspiel - a Gothic clock, complete with 32 dancing figures and 43 chiming bells. Later why not give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich’s side streets with our Local Guide.
Today, travel past the stony cliffs of Liechtenstein, into the capital, Vaduz, where you can grab some lunch and in enjoy it in the shadow of the Royal Family’s 12th century castle. Next stop: the jaw-droppingly beautiful alpine town of Lucerne. With covered wooden bridges, cobbled lanes and quaint buildings, Lucerne’s centre is perfect to explore on foot. Also to stock up on lots of genuine Swiss chocolate! Your Tour Manager can give you pointers on where to pick up the best-priced watches Switzerland is so famous for. Tonight, we head to the Alpine heights of Lauterbrunnen and stay in a typically Swiss region, complete with chalets.
Use your free time to discover more of Munich. Give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Munich’s side streets with our Local Guide. Otherwise head back to the old town and hunt around the little shops on the pedestrian-only lanes or for a change of scene, head to the university area. With shaded streets, buzzing pavement cafés and cute bookstores, it’s a great way to spend a chilled-out afternoon.
It’s a change of pace among Switzerland’s massive Alps. Take in the amazing views from the campsite. Opt to visit Jungfrau Mountain, head up the sheer slopes of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on a cog rail to Europe’s highest railway station, and step out onto the “roof” of Europe for spine-tingling views.
Over the border and into Germany, we head to the university town of Heidelberg. Wander around, grab a late lunch and check out its famous Baroque church. With free time this afternoon, you could relax at one of Heidelberg’s pubs with some friends or climb the Gothic church’s spire for great views over this pretty town. Tonight, get out and about and experience a bit of the local student lifestyle.
The coach follows the Rhine River, weaving through valleys dotted with castles and vineyards. Next stop - the pretty, old-world village of St. Goar, complete with fairy tale castle and even a free-hanging cuckoo clock! Learn about local know-how and get savvy on the craft of beer steins. Head into the buzzing capital of Amsterdam and check out the eye-opening Red Light District, where the creative and the wacky come together on narrow cobbled streets, 24/7.
Kick start the morning with an optional bike ride and cruise into the countryside, where you can bike around like the laid back locals, past working windmills, in the world-famous cheese village of Edam. In an intro into Dutch culture, see how clogs are made and try some of the famous Dutch Edam at a cheese farm. There’s free time this afternoon to experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops, museums and quirky, cool boutiques. Wander along the canals and past gabled houses. Tonight, say farewell to your newly formed family of friends with a final dinner in Amsterdam. Enjoy a laugh, a glass of wine and reminisce together. Afterwards make your way into town to enjoy the wonderful night life of this unique city.
This morning after breakfast we transfer you to Schiphol Airport (estimated arrival 10:00am) where your trip ends. Or choose to take a complimentary transfer to central London & extend your stay.
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Trip Name: The Northern Trek
Duration: 26 Days
From Price: 2495
Trip Code: 160311
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